roasted veggie and chicken salad.

For the first time ever, in the history of the world, I gave Matt a choice between bolognese and chicken and veggies… and he chose chicken and veggies. No one was more shocked than me! After making this supper, we were both pleased with his choice – so fresh, so tasty, and so hearty! A perfect winter meal that isn’t heavy pasta, soup, or laden with cheese. You know how we feel about soup around here.

roasted chicken and veggies

Roasted Veggie and Chicken Salad.
adapted from Baked Bree

Roasted Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup Dijon mustard (I used half dijon and half whole grain)
1/2 cup honey
2 minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts

Roasted Vegetables
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 pound of Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and quartered and set aside
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Goat cheese
White balsamic vinegar

Combine mustard, honey, garlic, salt and oil and pour 2/3 of the mixture over the chicken breasts to marinate. I marinated mine most of the day, though I think overnight would have been better. Reserve 1/3 marinade to toss with the vegetables after roasting.

Preheat oven to 400 and line a large jelly roll pan with foil. Toss vegetables (all except Brussels sprouts) with oil and salt and pepper and spread them out on the sheet. Nestle the chicken breasts in amongst the vegetables, and pour some of the marinade over them. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, toss Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. When you remove the sheet from the oven, toss the vegetables and add the sprouts. Bake another 15-20 minutes, or until chicken and vegetables are done.

Toss arugula with goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and divide among plates. Remove chicken to cutting board and slice, and toss roasted veggies with reserved marinade.

This seems like a lot of steps, but it was really very easy. And so delicious!

Chicken might not be so boring, huh?

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a week since Thanksgiving, and there are barely more than two weeks until Christmas! With the holidays falling the way they have, we have just one weekend in December without any gatherings or family celebrations, and it was this past weekend. We took advantage of the downtime to do some cleaning and organizing around the house, and enjoy a few meals that didn’t consist of leftover turkey and stuffing, or ham and mashed potatoes. I had pulled some ground chicken out of the freezer to make these meatballs – but when I surveyed the contents of the fridge, I thought I’d try to come up with a new recipe… and it turned out mighty delicious, I must say!

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan
serves 4

1 pound ground chicken (a mix of white and dark meat is best)
1 T minced fresh rosemary
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
3 T heavy cream
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup (or more) bread crumbs (Italian seasoned or plain)
3/4 cup grated parmesan, divided
olive oil
3 oz mozzarella, cut into small (1/2″) cubes (about 20)

1.) Preheat your oven to 325°. In a large bowl, add your rosemary, shallot, garlic, egg, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan. Whisk everything together well.

2.) Add the ground chicken to the bowl, and use your hands to combine everything well, being careful not to over-mix. Add the bread crumbs to the meat mixture, and combine – you want the mixture to remain very moist, but be able to hold its shape when rolled into a ball. You can add some more breadcrumbs if the mixture is still too wet after adding the 1/3 cup.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan

3.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Take a small handful of the meatball mixture, and press it into a flat round in your hand. Place a cube of mozzarella into the center, and gently fold the chicken around the cube. Use your hands to roll it into a neat ball, and place it on the baking sheet.

4.) Repeat with the remaining meat; I ended up with about 20 meatballs, that were roughly the size of golf balls, once they had the mozzarella in the middle. Sprinkle the meatballs with the remaining parmesan, and drizzle or spray a touch of olive oil on top of each one.

5.) Bake the meatballs for 25-30 minutes, until they’re cooked through. There will likely be a few meatballs with some mozzarella oozing out (that’s why you lined the baking sheet), but that’s no big deal. You can finish them under the broiler to achieve a nice, brown crust!

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan

These meatballs are gooey, cheesy, and delicious! The cracked black pepper and rosemary make them savory and herbacious – and who can resist a melty cheese center?? I served these meatballs with some simple lemon garlic green beans, which made for a quick but satisfying dinner. I also intend to use them in the future as appetizers – make them slightly smaller, pop them on to toothpicks, and serve with some marinara for dipping. They’d also be great on a meatball sub!

Mozzarella-Stuffed Chicken Meatballs with Rosemary and Parmesan

We love meatballs,

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto and Chicken Thighs

Pasta is a great staple to keep in the pantry – it makes for a quick and easy dinner any night of the week, without much stress or thought. Unfortunately, though, you can get stuck in a rut pretty quickly – noodle + red sauce + protein gets a little boring week after week. This pasta dish is about as quick as opening up a jar of marinara, and tossing the noodles into boiling water – it probably involves about 5 more minutes of prep, but it’s super flavorful, and a total departure from your usual red sauce and ground beef.

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto and Chicken Thighs

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto and Chicken Thighs
adapted from here
Serves about 6

1 pound orecchiette, cooked until al dente
8oz shelled pistachios*
2-3 T chopped fresh mint
4 green onions
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
about 2/3 pound chicken thighs, baked and shredded

*If you can’t find shelled pistachios, you’ll need about 16oz of unshelled pistachios to get as much as this recipe requires. You’ll also need a high threshold for searing pain in your fingertips, as shelling that many pistachios is an exercise in frustration and throbbing hands.

1.) Start by preheating your oven to 350°, and baking your chicken. I happened to have a package of chicken legs in the freezer, so that’s what I used – but regular chicken thighs will work great. Rub the meat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in a foil-lined baking dish for 30-45 minutes (bone-in chicken will require more toward 45 minutes; boneless should be cooked through in 30). Remove the chicken from the oven, let it cool slightly, and shred with two forks.

2.) While the chicken bakes, set your pasta water to boil, and make the pesto. Add the pistachios to your food processor, and pulse until the pistachios are well-chopped, but still fairly chunky (about 10, one-second pulses). Add the mint, 2 of the green onions, and garlic, and pulse a couple more times; then, let the food processor run while you drizzle the olive oil in. Keep in mind that you want everything to be evenly processed, but you still want the pesto to have a good amount of texture.

3.) Remove the pesto to another bowl, and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Set aside. Salt the pasta water well, once it has come to a boil, and cook your pasta.

4.) Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water; drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the pesto and shredded chicken thighs to the pot, and pour in the reserved pasta water. Stir until everything is well-combined.

5.) Take your remaining green onions, and cut them into 1/2″ pieces on an angle. Garnish your plates of pasta with the green onions, and more grated parmesan.

Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto and Chicken Thighs

This pesto is GOOD. It’s incredibly flavorful, and pairs nicely with the richness of the chicken thighs, but the two don’t compete with one another. The green onions and mint lighten it up enough so that it’s not heavy, and the pistachios are nutty and salty and crunchy, which is a great departure from your typical tomato-based meat sauce. Paired with a big salad and some crusty bread, this dish would be great for company!

You could definitely make the pesto a day or two ahead of time; just allow it to sit out at room temperature for about an hour before mixing it with the pasta (the chill of the fridge stiffens up the olive oil, which makes it hard to mix into the pasta when it’s cold). Also, you can totally omit the chicken if you’d prefer for this to be a vegetarian dish!

Seriously, the shelled pistachios are worth the extra $1,

Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

I really, really love wings. As a general rule, I love any food that is a vehicle for a variety of sauces (for instance, french fries), and wings are a great blank canvas! Even if the honey sriracha sauce doesn’t sound like it would be up your alley (in which case, you might be crazy), this cooking method produces a delicious, crispy wing, no matter what kind of sauce you choose to toss it in!

Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings
makes about 3-4 dozen wings

4 pounds chicken wings
canola oil
kosher salt
garlic powder
4 T salted butter
1/2 cup sriracha sauce
1/2 cup honey
juice of half a large lime
3 T soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1.) Preheat your oven to 400°. Start by removing the tips from your chicken wings with a sharp knife, and then cutting the drumsticks and the flat parts of each wing apart. Be sure your knife is VERY sharp, and aim to place the knife right into the middle of each joint, as it’ll make it much easier to cut through. Discard the tips.

Breaking down chicken wings

2.) When all your wings are prepped, throw them into a large mixing bowl. Pour a couple tablespoons of canola oil over the wings, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder over them. Use your hands to mix the wings and seasonings thoroughly, making sure all the wings are evenly coated.

3.) Line two baking sheets with heavy duty foil, and put a baking rack in each one. Lay your wings out in an even layer on each rack, skin side down, making sure to give them all a little space.

After the wings have been brushed with the sauce, but before they've been put under the broiler.

After the wings have been brushed with the sauce, but before they’ve been put under the broiler.

4.) Bake the wings for 40 minutes, rotating the pans (and flipping the wings) halfway through. While the wings cook, make your sauce. Add the butter, sriracha, honey, lime juice, soy sauce, and crushed garlic to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter melts; allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, so the garlic flavor infuses into the sauce.

5.) When the wings have cooked for 40 minutes, remove them from the oven and turn on the broiler. Brush the sriracha honey sauce onto the wings, and then put them under the broiler for a few minutes – until the sauce thickens a bit and the wings are nice and golden brown.

Nice and golden brown, after the broiler.

Nice and golden brown, after the broiler.

6.) Put all the cooked wings into a large mixing bowl, pour the sauce over them, and toss the wings until they’re well-coated. Serve immediately.

This is an awesome method for cooking wings. The skin gets nice and crispy, the chicken stays perfectly moist, and your house doesn’t smell like frying oil for a week and a half! As an added bonus, they require very little active cooking time – they mostly just hang out in the oven, cooking away on their own.

The honey sriracha sauce is a PERFECT mix of sweet and spicy. I enjoy spicy food, and found these to be mild to medium, on the spice scale. Of course, you could alter the ratio of honey to sriracha to make it spicier, or more tame, to your preference. They’re great for a party, or as a weeknight dinner with a side of oven fries (I may or may not have eaten them both ways in the last 72 hours, I’ll never tell).

Now you’ll never need to go all the way to the bar to get wings again,